Akamai Diversity

The Akamai Blog

Making the Edge Come Alive

In April 2019, Netflix viewers streamed 164 million hours of on-demand content per day. Fast forward a year. In April 2020, Twitch streamed 55 million hours per day. The vast majority of that was live.

We have seen the future of video. It is live. 

But live workflows have challenges and requirements that make VOD look easy, especially as those workflows increasingly go multi-cloud and multi-CDN.

When Low Latency Means High Performance

Study after study, including our own, show that livestreaming generates longer view times and deeper, lean-forward engagement from viewers. But strong performance for livestreaming requires low latency, especially when interactive elements are available to the viewer. Chunked encoding is one critical piece of that live performance puzzle, and so we're proud that this October 2020 platform update includes support for Apple LL-HLS, the updated version of its proprietary streaming protocol. The Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform now supports both of our industry's leading low-latency formats: LL-HLS and LL-DASH.

When "15 Minutes Late" Counts as "On Time"

Sports leagues around the world have begun to figure out how to let the games begin while addressing concerns about player safety. But there is a secondary effect on viewers. Parents who work from home, especially those with younger children, have rapidly become time jugglers. My colleague and friend Alex Balford, who has three kids under eight years old, is a huge hockey fan.

"Given my life right now, it's almost impossible for me to be there for puck drop."

What if the game could "start" where Alex wanted? Enter Instant TV.

An extension of our Live Clipping feature, Instant TV allows the viewer to scrub back to any chosen event start time within the archive window, similar to the functionality you get from pay TV set-top boxes. Our streaming platform version does this without changing the published manifest or restarting the encoder, reducing complexity and compute. Plus, Alex is happy.

When It's All Hands on Deck 

Last year, one of my favorite projects was interviewing Eric Black, at the time the CTO for NBC Sports Group, and our own Mani Sundaram, about what it takes to deliver a tentpole event. Eric said:

"Mani's group has been right there and continues to be there side by side for every one of these events. There's still not a Sunday Night Football or an NFL game that we do that Akamai isn't on the bridge with us monitoring and making sure that our bits are getting to our consumers with the highest quality. It's a phenomenal working relationship."

Companies with complex events programming, like NBC, typically require ongoing support across seasons and leagues. But that doesn't mean that programmers and distributors with moment-in-time events can't benefit as well. That's why we've also added new a la carte event support packages. They're simple, affordable, and effective, and they provide access to dedicated support and best-in-class monitoring during the course of the event to ensure a high-quality end-user experience. Check them out.

When Capacity = Performance

Our streaming industry, especially the subscription-based segment, is increasingly global. This summer, my wife and I binged a Finnish police procedural called "Bordertown." My daughter loved the Spanish series "Money Heist." But with a global audience, services need global capacity, and they need it whenever an audience shows up. 

One of the benefits of our distributed edge network is that our customers can typically find edge capacity even in regions where others have a long transit back to a super PoP. This can be critically important, so we've been working with some customers to allow them to use our API to find and light up capacity where viewers and performance need it. 

The service wins. And so do the viewers. Happy bingeing, everyone.

There will be more opportunities to engage with us on this and more at Edge Live | Adapt. Sign up to see how customers are leveraging these improvements, engage in technical deep dives, and hear from our executives how Akamai is evolving for the future.